Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

This is the place to discuss particular Shorts Flying Boat types and post documents, photographs and other relevant information appertaining to these craft.

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby sunderlandmr5 » Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:12 am

AlexNortonesq wrote:
Now, I hope that Alan can continue in your shoes with the Singapore series. All yours Alan!

That's what I said to Peter. :lol:

Now I have to state quite categorically that I don't have access to
photos of all four Singapores, and this information is
what I have gathered from my reading or research. Bearing that in mind please read on.

In 1939 discussions were held between the British and New Zealand Governments
on preparing and building land based aerodromes in Fiji as well as discussions between
Pan Am and New Zealand regarding a flying boat base for operations.

Serveral areas were considered, one in particular being Laucala Bay.
In Fijian it being pronounced Lauthala Bay, in Fijian the "ca" is pronounced "th".

With the attack on Pearl Harbour, Malay and Singapore (Dec 7/8 1941), United States
miliatry involvement in Fiji was increased. The aerodromes were
completed and Lauthala Bay was finished in September 1942.

Prior to the Japanese attacks, the RNZAF (Royal New Zealand Air Force)
was already involved in training it's personnel for the impending threat
in the Far East.

488 Squadron (NZ) was busy training to fly Brewster Buffaloes in Singapore.
Other RNZAF aircrews, who had trained previous in New Zealand on the
Supermarine Walrus at Hobsonville (Auckland), began arriving in September 1941.
This was to begin the transtion to flying the Short Singapore Mk III, currently on
strength with RAF 205 Squadron at Seletar, Singapore.

205 Squadron was ready to retire its Singapores, to replace them with
the Consolidated Catalina.

NOTE: Interestingly at this time Geoff Fisken, a young New Zealander who was attached to
205 Squadron training, wanted out of flying the Short Singapore, which he declared
"was like flying an oversized Walrus" (Supermarine). Geoff later went on to fly the Buffaloes
defending Singapore, becoming Ace. Later went on to fly the P 40 and F4U in the Pacific.
He still has the Commonwealth's (Pacific) highest score.

On October 1 1941, Squadron Leader D Baird (RNZAF) assumed command
of all RNZAF crews converting to the Short Singapore at Seletar, Singapore.

On October 14, four Short Singapore Mk III's were transferred from the
inventory of 205 Squadron RAF, to their new owners the RNZAF,
The following aircraft were transfered:
Two days later K6916 took off on it's delivery flight to Fiji from RAF Seletar,
followed shortly there after by K6917.

The ferry flight followed the legs from Seletar to Java to Timor, then to Darwin,
Groote island and Thursday Island in Northern Territory, Australia, Port Moresby and Samarai
in New Guinea, followed by Gizo and Tulagi in Solomon Islands, Santa Crux Islands, finally
Lautoka then Suva Fiji. K6916 arrived November 17 1941, K6917 arrived November 18, 1941.

The two Singapores did not go into service immediately, as they had to be hauled out of the
water and serviced after their long journey, not to mention the fitting of defensive armament.

During this time the RNZAF code OT-B was given to K6916 and OT-C to K6917. It is important
to note here, that during their operational service with the RNZAF, they retained their
RAF serials.

Some two weeks or so after their arrival, the two aircraft were carrying out anti submarine
patrols, and keeping a look out for Kriegsmarine Raiders in the Pacific (South West).

December 8 1941, a dark time for New Zealand military forces, in Malaya and Singapore. The
war was now closer to home. It should be remembered that Commonwealth forces put up a great
fight to protect Singapore from falling into Japanese hands. 488 Squadron (NZ) was the last
to leave Singapore just a day or so prior to the fall.

On December 10, the two remaining Short Singapores at Seletar flew in support of Force Z
(being HMS's Repulse and Prince of Wales). They returned to base before the attacks by the
Japanese which sank them. Though having rescued a Walrus crew who had ditched after
running out of fuel.

Meanwhile back in Fiji, K6916 (OT-B) who now was officially part of No 5 GR Squadron had an inauspicious
start to a mission to scout for radar sites. An issue with elevator trim made it impossible for the
aircraft to become airborne and it ran aground. Some sources say a reef, another a mud bank.

The hull was badly damaged and the aircraft, despite best attempt by ground crew, could not be repaired
at Lauthala Bay so the aircraft was stripped of parts and eventualy SOC (Struck Off Charge) in July 1942.

December 24 1941, the two remaining Seletar based Singapores, arrived in Fiji. K6912 receiving the
code OT-A and K6918 coded OT-D joing 5 GR Squadron.

The Singapores, by early January 1942, were carrying out patrols. This continued till November
1942, when due to serviceability problems the remaining aircraft were beached.

K6917 OT-B was stripped of useful produce (parts) and later became a house boat.

The planned arrival of the replacement Lend Lease PBY5 Catalina's, was delayed so the
last two Singapores were brought back into service.

March 8 1943 was the final flight for K6919 OT-C

Until April 16 1943, the remaining Singapore flew patrols until lack of spares caused the
aircraft to again be retired.

Shortly after this, the remaining two Singapore were filled with cement, towed out to the end
of the breakwater and scuttled in some 300 feet/91 metres of water, where they remain
to this day. Further reading seems to indicate that at least one or both became part of the
breakwater extensions. You can see the breakwater in this photo.

As of May 25 1943, the remaining Singapore crews transferred to No 6 Squadron at Lauthala Bay,
and converted to the new PBY5 Catalina's.

Some photos
(Photos used for illustration only)



Peter back to you! :D
Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:25 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:53 am

Thanks for that Alan.
As you say, the RNZAF Singapores were indeed obscure, being a stop-gap measure operated in a far-flung corner of the world during wartime.

For further reading I do have a copy of an article on these four aircraft written by the late Dave Moran and published in a mid-1960s issue of the Aviation Historical Society Journal.
I reproduce it here as it does give some more details. I suspect that he had contact with some of the crews that worked on these flying boats.
Do remember that this article is 50 years old, and if there is any conflict Alan's report (above) would probably be more accurate.

Some notes on this aircraft type appeared in Vo1.2 of 1he Journal, dated January 1959, but as that early issue has been out of print for some years, and some more information is now on hand about these aircraft, we felt that it would be a good idea to use the type heading again.

The Short Singapore III must surely be one of the least known, and most un-sung, of all the aircraft types that have served with the RNZAF This obscurity is not surprising when one considers that there were only four Singapores acquired, they served for only 18 months and during wartime secrecy at that, as that as far as is known, none of them served or even appeared in New Zealand,
However, they occupy an important place in NZ aviation history because they began the era of flying boat squadrons based in Fiji - an era that will end within a few years when the present ageing Sunderlands are replaced by Lockheed P-3 Orions or C-130E Hercules.

It was in the Pre-Pearl Harbour days of 1941 that it became obvious that the RNZAF was in need of a flying-boat squadron based in Fiji but priority orders prevented New Zealand obtaining early deliveries of modern aircraft. Finally, authority was received for RNZAF to take over four Short Singapore IIIs (K6912, K6916, K6917 & K6918) from No 205 Squadron Royal Air Force, which was re-equipping with Catalinas, and was based at Singapore.

A detachment of ground staff was sent to Singapore to overhaul the flying boats and it was closely followed by four pilots, led My Squadron Leader E M Lewis, an experienced pilot who had flown with the RAF and with civil airlines, and he had with him Flt.Lt. W J Craig as captain of the second aircraft. Flt.Lt. Craig had previous experience with Imperial Airways and TEAL, and be was no stranger to flying boats. Crews were picked from the ground detachment, and after a period of training in water handling had been carried out, the first two Singapores left Singapore for Fiji, via Darwin, on 18th October 1941.

As the flight was to take them away from bases and sources of supply, particularly from Darwin on, they were laden down with aircraft spares, extra fuel, cooking stoves, rations and personal effects, which made for difficult take-offs and an exceptionally low ceiling. Darwin was reached on 20th October, the aircraft having been flown via Batavia, Sourabaya, Bima and Koepang. It was the remainder of the trip that was expected to be difficult as with the exception of Port Moresby, there were few facilities for flying boats along the route.

The first serious delay occurred at Tulagi, in the Solomon Islands north of Guadacanal, when an engine gave out and another had to be obtained from Port Moresby. Normally an engine change would be carried out on the hard, but as there were no facilities for beaching the heavy aeroplane the work was done at anchor in 12 fathoms of water. Unfortunately, while a propeller was being un-
shipped, a phosphor-bronze retaining nut was lost overboard in 70 feet of water.
No spare was carried and a native diver searched for it without result. Finally a piece of phosphor-bronze was unearthed in a scrapheap and one of the fitters in the crew set to work to make a replica, using another nut as a pattern. He fortunately had the use of a workshop facility which be Lever Brothers maintained for servicing their trading vessels. After a delay of 8 days the Singapores were again airborne; the same home-made nut was still giving good service when the Singapores were retired 18 months later.

Although a series of minor difficulties were experienced by both aircraft during the rest of their flight to Suva, their closest shave was at Vila in the New Hebrides. Here the water was glassy, with a light wind blowing down the comparatively small harbour. Flt.Lt. Craig decided to take off into the wind. He roared up the harbour, but it was only at the last moment that the water released its hold on the deep hull, as the Singapore rose ponderously, to skim the land by a few feet. The second Singapore took off down-wind, and it was not until it reached the open sea, and bounced off the crests of a long swell, that it became airborne, after a take- off run of nearly three minutes.

Delivery of these first two flying boats was effected on 18th November 1941.
The second group of two aircraft left Singapore on 13th December 1941 and arrived safely in Fiji on 24th December, also completing the hazardous journey without mishap. The servicing party under Sergeants J W Cook and I Walthers, was left behind in Singapore and was then attached to 205 Squadron RAF. These men were eventually evacuated to Java and finally to Australia after the Japanese invasion of Malaya and the Dutch East Indies.

The Singapores were based at Suva Harbour, Fiji, and their unit was known as No 5 (GR) Squadron. Operations were commenced in January 1942 and at this time the squadron codes were painted on apparently at the time the codes were applied , the RAF serials were deleted , and as no RNZAF serials were allotted, the code letters were the only means of identification of the boats in RNZAF service.
Codes were as follows:
OT-A K6912 OT-C K6917
OT-B K6916 OT-D K6918
However, in official correspondence the aircraft were still referred to by their ex-RAF serials.

The Singapores were used on active service in the northern Solomon Islands and in the South-West Pacific area, making many anti-submarine patrol flight and searches, and acting as shipping escorts. They were also used in the “hunter-killer” type of mission against submarines. Air-sea Rescue was another side of their duties, over fifty aircrew members being saved by these boats.

Shortly after going into service Singapore K6916 ran onto a reef in Fill and was written off . This occurred before 20th February 1942 as the complement of No 5 Squadron at that date is given as three Singapores plus 6 Vincents. The Singapores were classed even at that time as second-line aircraft, which in view of their age is hardly surprising. No 5 Squadron was disbanded in November 1942 as far as the Vincents were concerned, but the Singapores were then formed into a Singapore flight and continued to give good service until Catalinas became available in May 1943 when No 6 Squadron was formed and the Singapores were honourably retired.

The remaining three Singapores were sunk in 300 feet of water off the end of the breakwater at Lauthala Bay, Fiji , although for a time one of their wingtip floats was used as a bombing target by the Catalinas in Fiji.
So ended what were probably the last Singapores in service anywhere in the world , a fate which will be paralleled by their successors, the Sunderlands of No 5 Maritime Squadron, RNZAF.

Type: General Reconnaissance and Coastal Patrol Flying Boat. (Crew 6-7).

Background Details, The Short Singapore III was typical of a number of British flying boats built in the years between the wars, with a deep, well- flared, beamy hull, triple fine and rudders and biplane wings mounted above the fuselage. It was powered by four Kestrel engines, two pushers and two pullers, and had an unimpressive performance. It was only with difficulty that they could be coaxed above 1000 feet with a maximum load, and they cruised at around 90knots.

The history of the Singapore goes back to 1926 when the original twin-engined Short S.5 Singapore 1 appeared and Sir Alan Cobham used one (N.179/G-EBUP) for his historic round-Africa flight. One Singapore I was followed in 1930 by the experimental Singapore II S.12, with four engines (N246 & K247). Four develop- ment S.19 Singapore IIIs were ordered in May 1934 (K3592, K3593, K3594, K3595) and the first of 37 production aircraft flew in March 1935. Five squadrons of the RAF used the Singapore III - these were Nos. 203, 205, 210, 230 & 240 Squadrons. RAF serials were: K3659, K4576-4585, K6907-6922, K8565-8570 & K8856-8859.

Construction: The hull was all-metal including the covering. The wings were fabric-covered and were of unequal span, the upper and lower centre-sections extending to the engine struts. There was a bomber's position in the bows, with a Scarff ring and mooring gear stowage and aft of this was the enclosed pilots’ cockpits. This had side-by-side seating and dual control with a central gangway
between the seats to give access to the front compartment. Aft of the cockpit was the officer's compartment fitted with two bunks and a navigator’s chart table. Between the spar frames was accommodation for a flight engineer and wireless operator and to the rear of that was the crew's quarters with three bunks.
Midships and aft gunners' cockpits were also open to the slipstream. In connection with the rear gunner's cockpit, a story is told that there was one place on the tailplane which was free of the slipstream, and during patrols at Iow altitude the rear gunner of this particular Singapore used to find that area convenient for sunbathing.

Dimensions & Performance: Wing span (upper) : 90 ft. ( lower): 76 Ft. Length: 64 ft 6 in. Height: ( to top of fin) 23 ft 7 in Wing area 1834 sq ft. Weights: Loaded 27,500 lbs. Empty: 18420 lbs. Max. permissible: 31,500 lbs Max. speed at 2000 ft: 145 mph Economical cruising speed: 105 mph Initial rate of climb: 700 ft/min. Service ceiling : 15,000 ft. Normal range: 760 miles at I23 mph; 1000 miles at I05 mph. Endurance 6 ¼ hrs hours.

Armament,: Three swiveling .303 Lewis guns in bow, dorsal and tail positions. plus 2000 lbs of bombs carried beneath the wings.
Engines: 2 x 560 hp Rolls-Royce Kestrel IIIMS tractor and 2 x 560 hp Rolls- Royce Kestrel IIMS 12-cylinder pusher motors, each driving a two-bladed fixed pitch wooden propeller. The motors we me mounted between the centre-section struts and were mounted in tandem in monocoque duralumin nacelles.

Colour Schemes: It is thought that the four Singapores used by the RNZAF may have had battleship-grey and sea green camouflage applied on upper surfaces and fuselage sides, with a light blue undersurface to the wings and hull, but confirmation on this point would be welcome. Roundels were standard RAF at that time – but the fin flash was the thin RNZAF type.

References: Contact, Vol.6 No 5, November 1944, and Vol.7 No 3 March 1945 (photograph of OT-C on page 26); British Aircraft of World War II, p.591; War Planes of the Second World War Vol.5; Royal New Zealand Air Force, by Sqn Ld r J M S Ross, pp 73-4, 108, l09 & 223. J-AHSNZ Vol.2 pp 4-5 & 23, VoI.3 pp 9 & 126
Acknowledgements: Various letters from Air Department in 1960, J S Deans & R F Killick. This article was compiled by member D G Moran of Timaru."

To sumarise:

Short S.19 Singapore Mk III c/n S.823
K6912 Air Council 1935
S.Abd ex 205Sdn RAF at Singapore
K6912 14/06/1941 Air Department Del.Fiji 24Dec41 code 'OT-A'
Last flight 16Apr43.WFU at Lauthala Bay, Fiji, and crushed by US Navy bulldozer

Short S.19 Singapore Mk III c/n S.827
K6916 Air Council 1935
S.Abd ex 205Sdn RAF at Singapore
K6916 14/06/1941 Air Department Del.Fiji 14Nov41 code 'OT-D'
DBR when hit coral during t/off Suva Harbour 18Dec41, Pilot S/L Eric Lewis. WFU & RTS at Lauthala Bay

Short S.19 Singapore Mk III c/n S.828
K6917 Air Council 1935
S.Abd ex 205Sdn RAF at Singapore
K6917 14/06/1941 Air Department Del.Fiji 18Nov41 code 'OT-B'
WFU Nov42, stripped of useful parts at Lauthala Bay, Fiji, and hull sold locally for use as houseboat

Short S.19 Singapore Mk III c/n S.829
K6918 Air Council 1935
S.Abd ex 205Sdn RAF at Singapore
K6918 14/06/1941 Air Department Del.Fiji 24Dec41 code 'OT-C'
Last flight 8Mar43, sunk in 300ft of water off end of breakwater, Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Next: The Sunderland Mk.5s
User avatar
Posts: 290
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:05 pm

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby Pondskater » Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:16 pm

A fantastic series - thanks for sharing those photographs. I've really enjoyed seeing pics of such good quality.

Just before you leave the story of the Singapores, a little from my research - I stumbled upon a few documents while looking for information about the Sunderlands supplied to New Zealand.

Transfer of flying boats to New Zealand (Source: T 161/1436, National Archives):
It was originally agreed in May 1941 to transfer five Singapore flying boats to New Zealand - a decision which had it origins back before the war when New Zealand had ordered a batch of 30 Wellington bombers. At the outbreak of war the NZ government generously handed the Wellingtons over to the UK, but with a promise that replacements would be found should Japan become hostile.

The matter was raised sevral times by the NZ Government during 1940 and then finally the Prime Minister Churchill himself gave authority in Dec 1940 for 6 Hudsons to be transferred to New Zealand.

Still looking for more aircraft, in Feb 1941, on hearing that the Singapores were to become surplus, the NZ Government requested them saying: “Although Singapore flying boats thus released have a limited performance, they would strengthen the air defences of the Dominion . . .”

Air Ministry noted: “In effect, the New Zealand attitude is that ‘anything is better than nothing’. They are willing to take over the Singapores in their present state . . .”

The "present state" was not at all good as the Air Ministry reported:
“The condition of these flying boats is bad with extensive corrosion and Far East have intimated that they cannot repair them; New Zealand are unable to repair them and consequently it may be necessary to ship them to Australia for repair or alternatively for Australian personnel to go to Singapore to do the work.”

A new Singapore had cost £29,000 complete but the surplus aircraft were considered worth little more than scrap - £1,000 for the aircraft and another £1,000 for equipment with a further £25 for engines, but since New Zealand had waited so long for them, it was felt to be wrong to charge.

The Air Ministry stated: “ . . .it is felt that it would be showing a bad spirit to insist on payment of what is little more than a token charge, especially as New Zealand are going to be put to substantial expense to get them serviceable again.”

The five aircraft plus 20 spare engines were gifted to New Zealand under the agreement dated May 1941. Unfortunately the report doesn't say who refurbished them - although it seems only four were capable of repair.

Last edited by Pondskater on Sun May 01, 2011 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Posts: 220
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 1:28 am
Location: UK - Deep south west

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:16 am

Thanks for that additional info Allan, every bit helps to build the picture.

This is the first I have heard of a 5th Singapore being transferred. As you say, it may have been 'used up' getting the other four airworthy. As far as we know, the RNZAF ground party were responsible for carrying out any work on these aircraft following the transfer and prior to departure from Singapore.
User avatar
Posts: 290
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:05 pm

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby sunderlandmr5 » Sat Apr 30, 2011 4:32 am


Thanks for the additional information on the Singapores.

Interstingly enough, the RNZAF personnell based in Singapore
became quite adept at getting clapped out aircraft into
working order and flying again.

When 488 (NZ) Squadron arrived in Singapore from New Zealand
around October 1941 they, inherited some twenty rather clapped
out Brewster 339E Buffaloes from RAF 67 Squadron.
(When I mean clapped out, I mean missing parts, non flyable)

Within a month or so all twenty aircraft were returned to
flying condtion, and as of December 8 1941 flew in the
aerial battles above Singapore to defend it from the Japanese.

In New Zealand we call this attitude "Kiwi ingenuity and No 8 wire" :lol: :lol:

Going back to the type of Aircraft that were the Short Singapore Mk III,
when it came time for the RNZAF to retire them at Lauthala Bay in 1943,
the aircraft proved to be resoundingly strong and well built.

One of the Singapore's was to be scrapped, and when the ground crews
went to use a bulldozer to crush the aircraft, the bulldozer blade just
slid along the wing leading edge causing no damage to the aircraft.

I certainly believe that Shorts Brothers knew how to build a flying
boat, and perhaps the aircraft were not in so bad a state as the
RAF (Far East) would have believed them to be.


Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:25 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Sun May 01, 2011 10:17 am

At the conclusion of World War II the Royal New Zealand Air Force operated over 1000 aircraft, many of which had been supplied by the US Navy under the Lend-Lease scheme.

Post-war planning aimed to reduce this number to an economic level and replace many of the American types with British aircraft to ensure compatability with other Empire and Commonwealth countries. Thus over the following years the RNZAF acquired Mosquitos, Devons, Hastings, Bristol Freighters, Vampires and Canberras.

The wartime Catalinas had served the RNZAF well, but under Lend-Lease provisions were theoretically meant to be withdrawn at the end of hostilities. Mindful of the need to maintain aviation links between many small Pacific Island States, the US authorities allowed continued use of the Catalinas post-war, but these aircraft would obviously not last forever.

Replacement of the Catalinas with other flying boats was considered to be desirable, and the most cost effective choice would be refurbished Sunderlands drawn from surplus stock available in the UK.

The RNZAF command calculated that 16 aircraft would be needed. Eight would form a Squadron based in Fiji, four aircraft based in New Zealand, and a reserve of a further four aircraft. Expenditure to buy and renovate 16 Sunderland MR5 flying boats was duly authorized in 1951.

The airframes chosen had been built by both Shorts and Blackburn, but all were renovated at the Short Borthers and Harland works at Belfast commencing in late 1952. The renovation work carried out was a bit more than a valve grind and a paint job as the following article from Flight magazine in May 1953 details:


As with most programs of this type it rapidly became evident that the cost would exceed the intial estimate by around 80%. Pressure was bought to bear to reduce the number of aircraft that would be bought down to 12 airframes, but (in possibly a unique outcome) the RNZAF stuck to their guns and additional money was grudgingly granted to cover the higher cost.

The Sunderlands were bought on charge for the RNZAF at Belfast from May 1953 with the final aircraft following 12 months later. All were flown out from the UK to either Fiji or Hobsonville by RNZAF crews staging through RAF/RAAF bases in Malta, the Middle East, Singapore and Australia covering around 12,000 miles for the trip.

By 1953 Tasman Empire Airways were withdrawing most of their Solents (leaving only ZK-AMO in service and ZK-AMQ in reserve) so had unused capacity at their Mechanics Bay servicing base. Therefore in a reversal of earlier times, where the TEAL Empre boats and the Sandringhams had been maintained at RNZAF Hobsonville, TEAL were contarcted to carry out the major servicing on the RNZAF Sunderlands at Mechanics Bay, and continued to do this work until the type was withdrawn in 1967.

Next: NZ4105
User avatar
Posts: 290
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:05 pm

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby Pondskater » Sun May 01, 2011 1:58 pm

Singapores - Good to know it was a RNZAF party which did the work. Interesting that the Whitehall mandarins were so wrong in their statement about New Zealand abilities.

The Sunderland refurbishment at Short and Harland, Belfast.

As mentioned above, it was a deep rebuild of the aircraft, anything not fully up to standard was stripped out and replaced - including large sections of the hulls as seen here.
The Shorts works number on the hull implies that it was the 12th aircraft of the RNZAF order.

And number 13:


Unknown aircraft from the rear

The Marconi kit mentioned in the article was an important part of the aircraft, replacing the old WWII vintage kit and featuring strongly in publicity for the refurbishment. These photos are from Marconi.

Here can be seen the Navigators position, on the right is the Loran with the Air Position Indicator next to it. Above the Loran is a type G4B compass.

And this shows the Marconi Radio kit just installed in the Sunderland.

And here a Mr G Farmer from Marconi is explaining the cockpit instrumentation to a member of the RNZAF crew, Sgt I Moran at Belfast before the test flights.

User avatar
Posts: 220
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 1:28 am
Location: UK - Deep south west

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby sunderlandmr5 » Mon May 02, 2011 10:07 am

Hi Allan

Excellent photos of the interior, thanks for posting them

Some 50 odd years later, it still looks
pretty much the same for the Nav's position
except the table top is different

The radio operators position is still much the same again the desk top is different
to the photo

This is a quote from a gent on one othe forums Peter and I belong to in New Zealand, will explain something as to my references to the table
Good morning folks - I served apprentiship at Shorts Belfast on Sunderlands etc. - from 1952 -1958 - this inc the CONVERSION - from a std. MK V to the RNZAF spec. - the RNZAF boats are not std. MK V - as anyone who ever worked on them or flew them would know .
We ripped out the radio operators timber table / bulkhead + R1155 / T1154 - and retrofitted with modern remote pilot operated Collins U.S.A. H.F. + V.H.F. T/R s - mounted in modern a.a. rack out system - from memory the radar ops. stn. was left as was the flight engineers and nav stn. We also fitted 2 x D.F. loops + 2 x H.F. antennae masts - you can see them in yr shots - a std MK V has only one of each - see the shots of the 2 x R.A.F. MK V in U.K.
Also the 2 x doors had slots cut in them for axe + fire extinguisher .
There were no other Sunderlands modernized like the R.N.Z.A.F. ones - even the later French fleet air arm ones were only o/h as std. They were and are always referred to as , flying boats - not planes - and the 1st + 2nd pilot sat on a flightdeck - not a cockpit - recommend you read Ivan Southalls great book - The 3rd Pilot .
We also o/h some storage Solents for T.E.A.L. - if you inspect the Solent / Sunderland MK V+ at M.O.T. - AUCKLAND - you will realize there are no components interchangeable inc. floats - so to mix them up is a bit odd .
I hope that guy T.C. who loved cutting up warbirds like the mighty Sunderland - has his airframe cut up by now !
I have lots of shots - so pls ask if i can help - I am in Sydney - R.N.Z.A.F. were my customer for aircraft eqpt. for many yrs. There was a guy on another forum who was trying to refurb the M.O.T. Sunderland - but i can't find him to assist - if you know him pls tell him .

Here is the link (You'll need to scroll down to the post by "Plane1") ... 447&page=4


Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:25 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Wed May 11, 2011 12:39 pm

The first of the 16 Sunderland MR5s for the RNZAF to complete a refit at Belfast was NZ4105. This aircraft had been built by Shorts at Rochester as Mk.V and had seen RAF services as PP110 from 15Nov1945.

This Sunderland was handed over to the New Zealand representatives at Belfast on 18May1953. It was then flown to Calshot by an RNZAF crew to be prepared for the ferry flight. NZ4105 left Calshot on the 28th May commanded by FO H B Thompson carrying a crew of 10. Staging through Malta, Egypt, Bahrain, Karachi, Ceylon, Singapore, Sourabaja, Darwin and Cairns they reached Lauthala Bay on the 13th June.

The Sunderlands were delivered without squadron codes applied. NZ4105 soon after arrival at Fiji in 1953. Note the nose gunports are still evident at that time.


Intially, the RNZAF operated two Sunderland squadrons. 5Sdn at Lauthala Bay used the code KN and 6Sdn aircraft based at Hobsonville carried the squadron code XX

NZ4105 in 5Sdn service as KN-A



Reports indicate that NZ4105 later carried the 5Sdn coding KN-C, but I have not seen a photograph of it carrying those markings.

By mid-1957, there was a reduction in the tasking of the Sunderlands, and 6Sdn was disbanded in August. Five of the Sunderlands were placed in storage at Hobsonville, and as all of the remaining active Sunderlands were operated either by the Maritime Operational Conversion Unit or by 5Sdn, the squadron markings were removed from the operational aircraft and they flew with just a single letter fuselage code. NZ4105 became A under this system.

NZ4105 at Hobsonville


Heavy maintenance for the Sunderlands was carried out at Mechanics Bay by TEAL, and the Sunderlands were frequent visitors there.

NZ4105 on the Mechanics Bay buoy



Winching up the Mechanics Bay ramp


On the hard at Mechanics Bay





Under maintenance in the TEAL hangar 24Aug1961


and out again, Mechanics Bay 28Sep1961

NZ4105 in the air, a three-ship formation flight - note the float of the camera ship and the top of the fin of the third Sunderland


In preparation for the arrival of the P3 Orions, NZ4105 was finally withdrawn from service by early 1965, and placed in outside storage at Hobsonville.

Parked at Hobsonville 28Feb1965


Engines and equipment were then removed, and the airframe was shifted to the non-active side of the field.

At Hobsonville 27May1966


and a few days later, 6Jun1966


NZ4105 was finally struck off charge on 2Aug1966 and sold for scrap.

25Dec1966 - Christmas Day!





Next: NZ4106
Last edited by flyernzl on Wed May 18, 2011 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Posts: 290
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:05 pm

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Thu May 12, 2011 12:07 pm

Two more photos of NZ4104 added in the appropriate place.

I have acquired a stack more photos of NZ4101, 4102 and 4103.
Should I add those in as well, or have you had enough and want me to plod on with the Mk5s?
User avatar
Posts: 290
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:05 pm


Return to Shorts Flying Boats Reference Archive

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Help keep this forum ad-free - please Donate

This free, ad-free forum is hosted by ForumLaunch